128 Parry Sound to Quinte Point, Ontario

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The lake freighter looked out of place in Parry Sound’s tiny harbor as it maneuvered to change direction. The massive bow thruster swung the ship slowly until lined up with the narrow harbor entrance. It crept forward revealing, like an opening curtain, all of Parry Sound’s unique features. The fire watchtower, now a scenic climb came into view. The tower looks down on the 115’ high railroad trestle bridge crossing between the waterfront and downtown Parry Sound. The Island Queen tour boat came into view, as did a seaplane beginning to taxi from its base of operation just behind the tour boat. We pulled into the town pier and had a perfect view of all the activities.

The A&P lets boaters take the grocery cart the half-mile walk through town back to the docks. We took advantage and loaded up. The number of carts stacked up at the end of the day was evidence of the popularity of the stores generosity. On a regular basis they come down and collected their carts on a truck. Being a tourist got mixed in with a day tracing down that our holding tank elbow was leaking and getting it resealed. Long walks around the hilly town helped get some leg muscle tone back after all our anchoring out and help burn off calories as we sampled fish and chips offered by various restaurants and chip wagons.

Sawdust Bay became home for a few days as we waited out a weather front. Tucked into a cove within the bay provided protection from all wind directions and a front row seat for watching loons. We guessed the couple in the dinghy approaching was someone coning to ask questions about Odyssey. As they got closer there was a vague recognition and the hello offered had a familiar sound. Then we learned it was Renate and Bruno off Champagne III. I’d met Bruno four years earlier and had kept in touch sharing e-mails about each other’s travels. They were anchored in another bay we’d passed, noticed our distinctive profile and came over to say hello.

Regatta Bay

Regatta Bay

Kalen Ferry Service went into operation in Regatta Bay. Two pulls on the line holding our stern close to the shore moved the dinghy from boat to shore. A bit of exploring found a prime patch of blueberries that Ruth transformed into blueberry pancakes the next morning. We’d almost rejected Regatta Bay because of all the boats. At one time we counted 15 boats either swinging at anchor or tied Med style like us to shore. Our pick provided some isolation so we could observe without having people in our face. Watching the coming and goings provided daily entertainment. For a break we took a long dinghy ride to find—what else a restaurant serving great fish and chips.

Already in the shade from the trees and hills behind us we watched the shadow rise instead of the sunset. Slowly gray and dusty blues crept forward dulling rock colors. It was interesting watching people around the bay change their routines as the shadow line worked it’s way forward and upward. Two couples dinghied to shore and then climbed to a clearing to catch the last of the sunset. As the shadow rise caught them they raised their glasses and drank a toast to the setting sun.

Pointe Au Baril Station is unique. Road traffic seems almost secondary. Small runabouts formed a continual procession coming and going as cottagers came into town for supplies. They jockey for a spot on the town dock continually jammed with 20-30 boats. Activity centered on your basic hardware/grocery/gift store. What little produce available sat in an outdoor rack. Inside shelving was home made and squeezed aisles to sizes that assured you’d be physically friendly with anyone you passed. The product on the shelves was an eclectic mix of putting what ever arrived wherever there was space. A short walk toward the highway brought us to two similar stores, one specializing in doughnuts and groceries, the other in plants and groceries. Of course there’s a chip wagon on the corner. We stayed a day enjoying watching the activity in this tiny summer-only town.

Tied up to a rock dock in Georgian Bay

Tied up to a rock dock in Georgian Bay

Just as we made ready to drop the anchor we noticed the stakes along the top of low rock wall. We quickly changed plans and rigged fenders and lines. Ruth slowly brought Odyssey along side while I checked the clear water for clearance below and then tossed a line over one of the stakes. A bit more work, and we were secure to our first rock face dock. We had only to step ashore to go off exploring Rogers Island. Morning brought a bonus. Ruth spotted a mink running the rock edge. It came up, stopped to sniff our mooring lines and ambled on its way totally unconcerned by our presence a few feet away in the cockpit.

Georgian Bay Fish Camp

Georgian Bay Fish Camp

Georgian Bay Fish Camp sits upon a mostly barren island in a remote corner of the 30,000 Island Archipelago. Except for weathering, the camp is probably little changed from when it was built in 1922. We called and made a reservation learning spaghetti would be served for dinner at 6PM and that they’d add two additional place settings and cook additional spaghetti. A short dinghy ride and walk up a rickety dock let us join four others for dinner. The conversation was fun and dinner excellent. As we headed back to the dinghy we could see other guests in the cabins getting ready to cook their fresh caught fish for dinner.

There are a few concessions to modern times and requirements. A diesel generator hummed away in the background. The septic system has just been upgraded. Previously huge holding tanks caught sewage on this solid rock island and a pump out boat visited on a regular basis just as happens with most of the cottages scatter on the islands. Now swimming pool-sized containers have been built and filled with barged in gravel, sand and dirt to make high tech drain fields. Instead of grass, freshly planted cattails will absorb organic matter.

 Navigation challenge on Parting Channel

Navigation challenge on Parting Channel

Parting Channel is a narrow passage with steep rock walls on either side. It’s clearly marked for navigation, but the huge bolder sitting squarely in its middle makes it a navigation challenge. We’d gone around it in Tranquility and now with our greater maneuverability Ruth easily guided us around the rock to the quiet anchorage beyond. We had the anchorage to ourselves as we snuggled in to enjoy gray, drippy weather for a few days. Loons poking around in the anchorage and an occasional passing boat became our entertainment as Ruth worked on a quilt, and I wrote a series of articles for Living Aboard. For a change of pace, we’d read or would dinghy ashore between showers to explore and get some exercise. The rugged Canadian Shield seems reluctant to allow vegetation. Trees and bushes worked their way out of any low spot that allowed dirt to accumulate and in some spots lichen works on trying to wear down the rock faces. The rough terrain made for scenic and very challenging climbing.

We made it to the Bustards Islands before turning south to drift back through the islands. We’d planned on going back via Lake Huron and Erie, but changed plans so we could enjoy the islands a bit longer and then go back via the Trent-Severn.

At anchor one morning a few loons appeared. We started taking more notice as their number increased to four with more arriving. Soon we had nine loons swimming around our bow ducking their heads in unison below the water. One broke off flapping, running and calling as it ran across the water surface for over a hundred yards. Slowly the others began to disperse with a few providing a similar display of water walking. Our best guess was they were gathering to decide if it was time to migrate.

 Bit of color on Wreck Island

Bit of color on Wreck Island

The seaplane, we decided, had right of way over Odyssey, and we stopped to let it pass. Joan and Rick, aboard to cruise a few days with us, were impressed and got a kick out of Henry’s for lunch. The restaurant is on Frying Pan Island and is only accessible by plane or boat. To give them a true feel of what cruising in Georgian Bay was like, we found an anchorage we hadn’t tried before and spent a good bit of time keeping cool by hopping in the water. The next day we made a leisurely tour of Wreck Island finding new beautiful rock colorings we hadn’t noticed on our first visit.

Happy hour at Starr Island

Happy hour at Starr Island

Rick and I swam from Odyssey to the rocks on Starr Island and did a bit of poking around. Ruth and Joan came over by dinghy bringing happy hour with them. The colorful rocks, blue water and sky with surrounding wilderness was the perfect setting for watching evening creep in as we enjoyed each other’s company and “drinks on the rocks”.

Joan and Rick headed for Detroit worried about what they’d find because of the Big Blackout. We headed to the Trent-Severn Waterway. The first totally manual lock was operational but the rest of the Waterway was closed because of the power failure. A day later things were back to normal and we started south.

We stopped for the evening at Young’s Point. Kids climbing over the bridge railing caught our eye. They lingered screwing up courage and then finally jumped feet first to the water 20 feet below. It brought back memories of youth when I’d be eager to get the adrenaline rush of a daring somewhat dangerous (to a 10 year old) jump. Interestingly most of the kids only jumped once.

The trip north on the Trent-Severn was a leisurely two-week cruise. Heading south we were in transit mode and did the waterway in four days. We were pushing hard to catch a closing weather window for crossing Lake Ontario. We cleared Trenton and headed east in the Bay of Quinte in fading light. Just at dark we tucked in behind Quinte Point and anchored for the evening. We’d be up well before dawn to cross Lake Ontario before the winds came up.

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